Lower Costs, More Data for Australian Water Agency with Over 300 Sites7 min video / 10 minute read
- Tags: 70,000
- Screens: 880 screens and 450 popups
- Clients: 1 fixed dedicated client (workstation), 5 web clients, with 20-25 mobile/tablet clients
- Alarms: 4,500
- Devices used: 80+ Red Lion Protocol Converters (DA30D); 75+ Teltonika RUTX09 4G Modems; PLCs - 80+ Koyo Click Plus, 60+ MELSEC across several varieties: MELSEC FX1N/60MRES, MELSEC FX1S/30MRES, MELSEC FX3G/40MRES, MELSEC FX3G/40MRES; 10 Modicon PC-E984-285
- Architectures used: Ignition Standard architecture with redundancy
- Databases used: 2 SQL Databases (System Data and History)
- Historical data logged: 65,000 historized tags
A regional municipal council has implemented the next generation of remote telemetry monitoring and data-driven decision-making. This represents a significant step for the water industry in Australia and provides access to the same data-driven decision-making process used by large water authorities for a fraction of the cost. Since implementing the new system, the council has seen the commencement of significant cost reductions, improved planning, and data-driven decision-making.
Australia has a long history of remote telemetry operations with many water authorities covering huge geographical regions. Often these systems are based on old poorly secured technology (by current standards). This project is a great example of a small council in a growing region using a forward-thinking approach during their control system upgrade.
Alexandrina Council is one of the fastest-growing regions of South Australia, with a population greater than 27,800. During summer, the population swells with visitors, requiring the council to account for this additional peak demand. The region is home to the Murray Mouth, Coorong, and significant environmental sites including Ramsar wetlands.
The council had more than 300 remote sites across at least six independent SCADA technologies with very limited to no remote accessibility. This created a difficult asset environment to manage and meant maintenance teams were constantly traveling to collect data and spot-check the status of the different systems.
The council’s wastewater team had a future vision to leverage the rich data capture and drive analytical tools to enable predictive maintenance for their sites.
SAGE implemented a superior solution using Ignition Perspective, MQTT Sparkplug B, and LTE, that enables the council to:
- Implement a large wide-area remote telemetry system with data buffering for a fraction of the price of other comparative solutions on the market.
- Combine multiple SCADA and HMI technologies into a unified Ignition platform.
- Use a mobile-first design approach that allows data to be accessed anywhere on any device, all developed/tested and commissioned once.
- Store data from more than 300 sites and provide access to decision-making support tools.
- Reduce maintenance costs via site visibility, reducing the amount of travel needed.
The latest features of Ignition Perspective’s visualization platform were used to provide a flexible project. Taking a mobile-first approach allowed templates to be used across different devices (mobile, tablet, and desktop) without duplicating development effort. This was completed without negatively impacting the desktop environment, which includes full P&ID views using the latest Ignition piping tools.
The project is built around Ignition’s tight integration with MQTT Sparkplug B. It uses Red Lion DA30D units at each site as a common edge device which can communicate to the wide range of PLCs that the council has installed over 15 years. The ease of integration and data backfilling combine for a powerful solution at a fraction of the price of a traditional RTU architecture.
SAGE leveraged the web service connectivity, powerful scripting, and templates within Ignition to replicate an entire IoT system quickly. The Flovac IoT system is used as a data source, and Ignition’s graphics and data are all generated dynamically. This allows Ignition to be a single source of truth from an operator’s perspective and removes the need to manually update Ignition as new sites are added or removed in the IoT system. This significantly reduces the level of system maintenance required in the future.
The council gained full remote visibility of sites, with multiple external systems integrated into a single centralized SCADA. As a result, operators can access historical data, as well as intelligence (such as event markers) to improve troubleshooting and response times, from whatever location they need.
SAGE takes a highly collaborative approach when working with software and hardware vendors. The requested features and improvements developed in this process change the industry for the better. Specifically, SAGE worked with the Red Lion team to improve how the MQTT backfilling process works and increase stability. Within Ignition, they were one of the first teams to implement the piping tool in a live system and provided valuable feedback on it and other critical features of Perspective like trending, alarm display, and shelving.
Introducing new operations personnel to a SCADA system is time-intensive, so 3-5-minute training videos are embedded into the system. These recordings step users through common scenarios typically covered by in-person training sessions, such as simple navigation and color standards, through to complex features like trending. This also allows experienced users to re-familiarize themselves with infrequently used features. Fundamentally, this system supports and provides critical user tools for the operators, ensuring they remain at the center of application development.
The council’s on-call support has vastly improved - previously, any alarm would require travel to the site. Using Ignition’s alarm notification system, alarms are categorized and directed to the appropriate operations group, who can log in through their mobile device or tablet, and address the alarm with the operational intelligence they need.
Operations now more effectively plan and schedule multi-site works by remotely monitoring site status to ensure a suitable operational state when they arrive at the next site to take samples and measurements.
Prioritizing alarms, reducing travel time, and performance-based maintenance create direct cost savings for the council, allowing funds to be redirected towards expansion plans. It also provides the council with the core infrastructure for analytics and machine learning tools to increase those savings even further.
Scott: I'm Scott Avis, senior systems engineer, and have been with SAGE Group for 12 years, delivering SCADA and telemetry solutions across a number of industries. SAGE Group is an Australian-based company with more than 600 people across two continents. We are a Premier-Level Integrator with Ignition. We have a presence in every state and territory in Australia and are focused on delivering a smarter future, better world. Alexandrina Council has a population of more than 27,800 residents across more than 1,800 square kilometers and is one of the fastest growing regions of South Australia. The region is a popular tourist destination with more than 800,000 overnight visitors each year. The Council originally had more than 300 remote sites across at least six independent SCADA technologies, with very limited to no remote accessibility. This created an asset environment that was difficult to manage and meant that maintenance teams were constantly traveling in order to collect data and spot-check the status of the district systems.
Scott: In 2021, SAGE Group began working with the Council to introduce an overarching control system across all their wastewater assets. This project involved Alexandrina Council's implementation of the next generation of remote telemetry monitoring and decision-making in wastewater. This represents a significant step change for the water industry in Australia and provides access to the same data driven decision making processes used by large water authorities for a fraction of the cost. Since implementing the new system, the Council has seen significant cost reductions, improved planning, and better decision-making. So before we take a look at some actual graphics, I'd like to discuss the design philosophy of this project. Initial discussions with the Council revealed their preferences for a highly mobile workforce. With this in mind, SAGE designed faceplates for mobile resolution first. These face plates are common between both the mobile and desktop environments. Everywhere possible, we focus development on faceplate templates, which are dynamically placed on the view interface, regardless of resolution.
Scott: So we'll start here with the map overview page. This page shows all the sites in the Council district. The pump station overview page provides a high-level status of all pump stations in a township, including pump status and sublevel. From the individual pump station page, Operations receive a more detailed view of site status, including pump operation, sump levels, pump statistics, site control. Both the pump station overview in this detail page are created dynamically based on site information in the system tag database and SQL tables. This is allowed for quick and simple site instancing. SAGE have utilized the new Perspective piping tool to create the P&ID pages operators are familiar with. One of the Council's existing more featureful SCADA installations was deployed across a vacuum pumping system. SAGE system engineers worked with the FLOW-VAC developers to utilize a new rest API service, which enabled replication of the FLOW-VAC SCADA system within the Perspective environment. This has enabled Ignition to fulfill the Council's desire for a single source of monitoring.
Scott: This implementation will even recognize when a new device is added on the FLOW-VAC side and automatically added to Perspective without any user interaction. In terms of actual graphics, you'll see, we have a graphical map showing asset locations, which can be filtered based on which pump station the vacuum site feeds, which gateway they communicate through. We have also developed a table view showing all sites. This table can be filtered based on any column value. Table rows can be selected to display additional site information, including a trend and statistics, which automatically update based on the trend time period. SAGE has developed a trend saving feature which allows operators to build their own specific trending. These trends can be saved and retrieved at a later date by themselves or another operator based on user credentials and page settings. Operator training is a small part of a project handover, but for new operators and those unable to attend training sessions can often result in a "here's the manual, have a read" approach. To mitigate this issue, we've embedded training videos directly into the SCADA application.
Scott: This allows any operator to access short and specific training videos on demand. In addition to the new operator training, we also foresee an experienced operator accessing specific videos for SCADA elements they don't often use, such as advanced trending features like multi-plot trends. One of our team members had a stroke of inspiration and developed a dark mode feature. Now every graphic in the system functions in both a light and dark mode. You can see this as I cycle through the graphics. Everything I've mentioned previously works on mobile and tablet environments. Displays automatically scale up and down based on device resolution. This results in a SCADA system which works as well on a mobile device as it does in a multi-monitor operator control room. At its core, Council operations has been significantly improved. They have the data to drive informed decision-making and the ability to push that data into other analytical platforms. They have SCADA access from any location on any device and minimized incident response time through prioritizing of alarm events.
Scott: This has resulted in a significant reduction in transport costs and operator driving time. SAGE has delivered all this at a fraction of the cost of a traditional RTU wide area communication network, saving the Council money, allowing prioritized spending and benefiting Council residents as their funds can be redirected. Looking forward, the Alexandrina Council is discussing growing the SCADA system by incorporating additional storm water and irrigation sites.
Created By: SAGE Group
SAGE Group is a global company with a team of more than 600 people spread across two continents. As an integrated industrial digitalisation services provider, SAGE combines the perfect balance of technology, process, and capability. SAGE Group includes specialist offerings – SAGE Automation, Nukon, Embedded Expertise and Skills Lab – that together deliver seamless support and provide the keys to successfully accelerating our clients on their digital journey. Our purpose is to partner with clients across defense, energy, manufacturing, resources, utilities and transport to create a smarter future, better world.
Project For: Alexandrina Council
Alexandrina Council is uniquely positioned in the picturesque Southern Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia, approximately 80km from Adelaide CBD. Alexandrina Council comprises some 182,684 hectares and is one of the fastest-growing regional areas in South Australia – experiencing peri-urban trends while also noted for its high-quality agricultural production (the second largest industry in the region). The Alexandrina vision is about ‘connecting communities’ through regional innovation, a thriving environment, quality of life and wellbeing for all, increasing cultural vitality and activating vibrant spaces.